By Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
PETALING JAYA, Dec 20 — Nine-year-old Mohd Hasif Abdul Halim watched in horror as his parents and three sisters drowned at the Belukar Bukit waterfall in Hulu Terengganu yesterday afternoon. He saw his family wiped out after a huge body of water came crashing down on them.
The family of six were on a year-end school holiday trip and were unfortunate to have chosen to have a picnic at the notorious waterfall that has taken many lives in the past.
Many travellers have warned visitors planning a trip to the waterfall to be extra careful as certain part of the pool was 10m deep.
It is popular spot for picnics, but the waterfall poses a deadly danger to swimmers as there have been reports of whirlpools caused by the meeting of opposing currents in the river.
The victims were Abdul Halim Samian, 44, his wife Nurul Adila Awang, 39, and his three daughters, Nurul Arifah, 16, Nurul Hidayah Aina, 11, and Nurul Izah, 10.
During the incident, Mohd Hasif was not inside the water and was playing near the bank.
The Kuala Berang Fire and Rescue station’s commander of operations, Mohd Zuraidi Yusof, said they believed the family had gone to the waterfall around 10.30am when the area was still relatively empty.
“We believe they tried to save each other from drowning after a sudden rapid current above the waterfall brought down a huge column of water and swept the five away,” he said.
It was still not clear how the chain of events took place. Zuraidi said the area was also known to have whirlpools, and he did not rule out the possibility of the family drowning in fighting the currents of the whirlpools.
The family was from Bandar Puncak Alam in Kuala Selangor, where Abdul Halim was believed to be a practising imam while working as a contractor.
They went for a picnic at the waterfall to celebrate the school holidays while visiting the hometown of Nurul Adila in Kampung Bukit Tunggal, Kuala Nerus.
Zuraidi said Fire and Rescue Department officials were alerted around 11.35am, and arrived at the scene around 12.20pm.
“Members of the public had recovered the body of Abdul Halim at 12.17pm, while Nurul Hidayah Aina and Nurul Izah’s bodies were found five minutes later, before rescue officials had arrived,” he said.
He said the body of Nurul Adila was found at 12.33pm, while the body of the final victim, Nurul Arifah, was recovered at 12.37pm by members of the public and rescue officials.
Zuraidi said the bodies were handed over to police and were then brought to the Hulu Terengganu Hospital for a post mortem.
Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman has called on authorities to intensify monitoring at all recreational centres and national parks in the state, especially during school holidays and the monsoon season.
“My condolences to the victims’ family, I will instruct the relevant authorities and district councils to enhance security at all recreational centres, national parks as well as picnic areas,” he said.
Ahmad Razif, who is on an official visit to Johor, also advised members of the public, especially visitors from outside Terengganu to be careful when swimming in river or sea during the monsoon season.
A 28-year-old man from Felda Megkawang drowned during a fishing trip with his five friends on Feb 21. In September last year, a 12-year-old boy drowned during a picnic with his family. – Malay Mail Online